MILWAUKEE — The Oklahoma City Barons' penalty killing unit might have been at its best Friday night. The Barons killed 10 penalties, including a two-man-short situation late in the third period to beat Milwaukee 3-2 in an American Hockey League game before 9,344 fans at the Bradley Center.
The Barons (42-18-9) guaranteed a Western Conference playoff berth and could clinch the West Division championship Saturday night with a win at Grand Rapids.
Oklahoma City was short in manpower for six consecutive minutes in the third period, including two-men shy for two of those minutes. Milwaukee (34-28-5) failed to beat goaltender Yann Danis, who faced 13 shots in the third period, most of those while the Barons were down in manpower.
The Admirals did score twice in the third period to keep the game close, but OKC's game-winning goal was provided by Tyler Pitlick just 1:36 into the final frame. Pitlick's seventh goal of the season gave Oklahoma City a 3-1 lead; it followed Kevin Henderson's goal just a minute earlier that drew Milwaukee within 2-1.
Antti Tyrvainen and Tanner House had Oklahoma City's other goals. Anton Lander added two assists.
Barons defenseman Alex Plante returned to the lineup almost a month after suffering his second concussion of the season.
The Barons and Grand Rapids will face off at 6 p.m. Saturday.